Getting Started with Numbers

This guide helps you understand the various types of numbers Plivo offers. You can learn more about searching and buying numbers in the Plivo PhoneNumbers API documentation and learn more about accessing the numbers already added to your account in the Plivo Numbers API documentation.

Understanding Phone Number Types

Phone numbers that Plivo offers can be categorized into the following types: fixed, toll free and mobile. The phone number type can generally be identified using a phone number’s prefix (link to prefix) and it typically indicates the capability (receive Call and/or SMS) and the region the phone number belongs to.

Evaluating Phone Number Types

The type of phone number to use should be decided based on:

  • Use-case
  • Cost you expect the dialer to incur
  • Expectation to set to the user you communicate with

Below are the types of phone numbers offered by Plivo, with a brief on the circumstances they should be used in.

Fixed numbers

Fixed numbers are assigned to a specific region. The region could be a city, an area, or a country. For instance, phone numbers in the format +1 (212) XXX-XXXX correspond to the Manhattan area in New York city, +1 (917) XXX-XXXX correspond to the whole New York city. Similarly, phone numbers in the format +33 5 xx xx xx xx correspond to the southwest France region and +33 9 xx xx xx xx correspond to entire country of France.

Fixed numbers generally support receiving calls. In a few countries, like the US and Canada, they support SMS as well. Users dialing from within the phone number’s region would be charged local rates. Individuals and local businesses that communicate with customers in a specific city or an area typically use fixed numbers that belong to the area. Whereas, larger businesses that engage customers across the country should use fixed numbers with prefixes that are reserved for the entire country.

Toll-free numbers

Toll-free numbers, also called freephone numbers, are phone numbers that are billed to the called-party for all incoming calls and are free of charge for the calling party. Most countries around the world reserve a set of dialing prefixes [link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toll-free_telephone_number#Around_the_world], typically 1800 or 800, to denote toll-free services.

Toll-free numbers are generally used by businesses that require their customers to reach them at no cost. Businesses also use toll-free numbers to send transactional and promotional SMS to opted-in customers.

Mobile numbers

Mobile numbers are similar to the phone numbers connected to SIM cards used in cell phones. However, they can be used like fixed or toll-free numbers, and are not connected to any SIM card Most countries assign a range of prefixes for mobile numbers, using which these phone numbers can be distinguished from other types of numbers. For instance, the prefixes +33 6-xx-xx-xx-xx and +33 7-xx-xx-xx-xx in France, and +45 91-xx-xx-xx through +45 93-xx-xx-xx in Denmark are reserved for mobile numbers. Mobile numbers generally support sending and receiving SMS, and in some countries also support making/receiving calls.